Senior Spotlights: Jake Meyer and McKenna Nolasco
FCS is proud to highlight two of our standout seniors, Jake Meyer and McKenna Nolasco. No strangers to their classmates, both students have been exceedingly active in extracurricular activities, from sports to performing arts to student leadership.
Although not quite a 13-year student, Jake has been with FCS since the first grade and comes from a family of FCS grads. After graduation, he will attend Grove City College, where he will major in communication arts and enjoy the wide variety of seasons Pennsylvania has to offer. Jake chose his major because, he explains, he wants to help people, and he knows he needs to be able to communicate well with others to do so.
In addition to the numerous sports teams he played on, Jake has been performing in student plays since elementary school and considers his castmates an extended family. He was also previously a member of class council and has served in other leadership roles. “I try my best to be kind and to reach out to everyone,” he says, adding that being voted homecoming king felt like a recognition of those efforts.
During his freshman year, Jake founded the FCS chapter of Best Buddies, an international organization whose mission is to create awareness of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and to provide support for those with them. As president of the chapter during his sophomore year, he attended a national leadership conference where he met other likeminded students from across the country. The experience is one of the main reasons he cites Best Buddies as a high school highlight, in addition to how the organization helped him to grow personally and learn more about treating others with respect.
“The idea of high school is really fun,” Jake says, “but when it comes down to it, you’re going to be safe at FCS, whether it’s with other classmates or teachers. You feel very valued.”
Classmate McKenna Nolasco has Jake beat by one year — she’s been at FCS since preschool. She will be attending Chapman University in the fall, where she’ll study business management and play soccer.
Looking back at McKenna’s school involvement, it’s a wonder she fit it all in — volleyball, basketball, school board, chorale, handbells, plays. She credits this ability to diversify to FCS and its staff. “Teachers work together to allow you to be part of multiple programs,” she explains.
“The school makes it possible to do anything you want to do.” As an example, she cites how her advisors allowed her to alternate one period between handbells and choir, rather than having to choose just one.
The faculty also made sure McKenna could participate in The Sound of Music her sophomore year, even though she had broken her leg. Their creative solution: cast her as a nun in a wheelchair so she could still use the gift of her voice. McKenna’s FCS performance history dates back to elementary school, when she and Jake both appeared as Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.
Her affinity for leadership led her to participate in class council, where she helped plan Spirit Week and fundraisers. “I like to be a part of making those decisions and seeing it all come together,” she says. She was also the vice president of Best Buddies.
McKenna’s family is another exemplar of FCS school spirit. Her brother Jeremiah graduated in 2013, and her mother has coached volleyball and basketball and served on the school board.
McKenna cites FCS’s small classes as one of its benefits. “You get to know teachers personally,” she says. “They know what’s going on in your life. That helps build a good connection, trust, and respect. I’ve always felt comfortable asking for extra help, which I think I’d be intimidated to do in a larger class.”
One of her favorite memories was the Mexico mission trip during J-Term, where she had the opportunity to travel with a small group of friends to work together for a bigger purpose. She says the first house they built was for a family who had lived in a tent. “It really put things into perspective about being grateful for all we have here, including the opportunities,” McKenna says. “Seeing that your hard work means something is both humbling and rewarding. It’s something I’ll carry with me forever.”
Big-School Opportunities in a Small-School Environment